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April 18, 2012
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary Professor Receives Lilly Grant

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary's (UDTS) Amanda Benckhuysen, assistant professor of Old Testament, has been awarded a $5,000 research grant from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Lilly Endowment to support her project The Legacy of Eve: A History of Women's Interpretations of Genesis 1-3. 

"This grant is a tremendous affirmation of the quality and importance of Dr. Benckhysen's scholarship," said Bradley Longfield, vice president and dean of the seminary. "Dr. Benckhuysen's book will be a great asset to the church and the academic community. The resources provided by Lilly program will be a significant help to Dr. Benckhuysen as she pursues this research."

Benckhuysen's project notes that the opening chapters of Genesis have long been read as texts that describe and define the nature of women.  As early as Philo, she says a dominant interpretive tradition emerged which maintained that Genesis 1-3 establishes divine approval for the subordination of women to men and subsequently, the limitation of women's participation in the public sphere.  The influence of this interpretive tradition in fostering negative societal attitudes toward women naturally raises the question of how women, in the history of Christian tradition, read these texts.  Benckhuysen's aim is to collect and examine the largely unknown writings of the considerable number of European and North American women from the 15th - 19th centuries who referenced, interpreted, and appropriated Genesis 1-3 in the discussion about the nature and role of their gender.  Often these women came to different or more nuanced conclusions than the dominant tradition about the witness of Scripture regarding women and in this respect, their writings reflect a counter tradition of interpretation of Genesis 1-3.  Benckhuysen believes that the recovery of their writings will show that long before the modern feminist movement, women within the Christian tradition addressed the gender issues raised by these chapters of Genesis and offered alternative ways of reading these texts to alter social norms for women.

"I can't begin to express how honored and grateful I am to receive the Lilly grant," stated Benckhuysen.  "It is truly a testament to the importance of this project.  My hope is that in recovering women's writings on the opening chapters of Genesis, the church will gain a better understanding of the diverse history of interpretation of these texts and the resistance that emerged in the history of the church to interpretations that were used to degrade and limit women.  The Lilly grant makes this research possible."

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is a membership organization of more than 250 graduate schools in the United States and Canada that conduct post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs to educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines.

The Lilly Theological Research Grants program is designed to enhance the skill and capacity of faculty in ATS schools as theological researchers and scholars. It supports research efforts of faculty; seeks to enlarge the pool of faculty actively engaged as theological researchers; works to increase knowledge about grant seeking and the craft of theological research; and nurtures the habit of research as an ongoing aspect of scholarly life.